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VOL. 133 | NO. 154 | Monday, August 6, 2018


Bill Dries

Last Word: DEB Comes to Memphis, Collierville's New School and Lamar Avenue

By Bill Dries

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At the end of an eventful week on several fronts, two of those fronts met Saturday evening in Memphis Park. The park, cleared of all remaining Confederate monuments and markers earlier in the week, was the site of the first Le Diner en Blanc in the city. This is an event that takes place in other cities with the Paris DEB 30 years old and still running.

It’s an invitation event that quickly sold out and the organizers, Victoria Young and Gene Robinson III, decided it would go broader than the events have aimed for in other cities. Everyone dresses in white and tour buses take the guests to a surprise location where tables are then set up for a formal dinner.

“You have to consider how people from all walks of life will live this experience and be intentional about fusing those elements and curating that experience,” Young and Robinson said in a written statement before the event. “Forcing you to dismantle the rigid box in efforts to create a unique experience that is unlike any other. It cannot be the same exact thing, although the traditions and characteristics are fragrant of the event. You really have to rely upon every skillset for its execution in order to create a seamless experience for the attendees.”

Days after Memphis Park was cleared of remaining Confederate symbols and markers, it was the site of the city's first Diner En Blanc event.

It’s hard to think of a more effective event for the repurposing of a park long associated with the mythology of the Old South – a sign in the park in place into the 1990s said it was a “memorial to the Old South” -- and a bastion of a Civil War “history” that would make someone with no broader understanding of the Civil War assume that the South won the war.

The idea of bringing together people from different backgrounds is exactly the philosophy of the Fourth Bluff efforts in the park that are now in their second summer.

Young and Robinson, in their statement say the city is in a “transitional period of change.” This was before the polls closed last Thursday and Democrats swept the county general elections on the ballot starting with Lee Harris’s election as county mayor on a promise to change and challenge the city’s and the county’s “status quo” aided by an eight-vote Democratic majority on the Shelby County commission. That commission majority includes Tami Sawyer, the leader of the Take ’Em Down 901 movement that pushed hard for the removal of the Confederate monuments as soon as possible and argued Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland should have acted sooner.

The transition in county government, which could be the most dramatic in the 42-year history of county government’s restructure to a mayor and commission form of government, takes shape quickly with the winners in the last week’s election taking office in about three and a half weeks.

Meanwhile, the Shelby County Commission has a special meeting scheduled Wednesday amidst the commission’s regular committee sessions. On the agenda is the third and final reading of a pair of ordinances including one that would require commission approval for the county mayor to hire outside legal counsel for any matter that costs more than $50,000 in legal bills.

This item was an add-on to the county commission’s meeting at its last regularly scheduled meeting in July. The commission then called a special meeting a week ago to approve this measure on second reading, setting up a third and final reading Wednesday.

The new $95 million Collierville High School had its formal ribbon cutting Sunday.

Day one of the school year for Shelby County Schools, Germantown Municipal Schools and Millington Municipal Schools is Monday. Much more on this to come when next we meet. But here is a look at the new Collierville High School that made its debut this weekend ahead of that school system’s Aug. 13 school year opening. And a group of summer interns at LRK, meanwhile, did some renderings of what an East High sportsplex might look like. For years SCS superintendent Dorsey Hopson has been talking about a significant upgrade on several levels for what some say is the most visible high school in the city with its Poplar Avenue and Walnut Grove frontage.

What happens when roads don’t keep up with what’s growing around them? Answer: Lamar Avenue, which is Patrick Lantrip’s cover story in the new issue of our weekly, The Memphis News.

Lamar Avenue is the city's major freight corridor and the city's biggest traffic problem.

In Nashville over the weekend, a unity press conference among the contenders in last week’s Republican primary for Governor won by Bill Lee. The Tennessee Journal reports.

Here is the rest of The Week Ahead.

Dale Watson’s Ameripolitan Music Awards will be back in February after the first one prompted lots of articles about what Watson’s exit from Austin means and Watson talking a lot about his move to Memphis.

In our “Around Memphis” reading list, Evvie McKinney’s debut single post-The Four and lots of reaction to the court files showing Memphis Police surveillance of protesters in recent years.

Rolling Stone on 50 years since Elvis Presley’s television comeback special.

The Memphis News Almanac: State Rep. Harold Ford goes for a legal opinion on who draws district lines, Voter registration in 1927 Memphis and the first Yellow Fever epidemic begins.

PROPERTY SALES 107 331 6,877
MORTGAGES 60 239 4,368
BUILDING PERMITS 190 508 16,423
BANKRUPTCIES 22 136 3,532